The controversial National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks to make the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi equivalent to the Delhi government was passed in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday amid opposition walking out of the Upper House.
This became a rallying point for the entire Opposition and in a rare scenario several regional parties too united in the pushback against the incumbent government calling it an ‘overweening Centre’.
During the discussion over the bill, 12 opposition parties in Rajya Sabha and nine in Lok Sabha opposed it- including the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Delhi CM has been slamming the bill claiming it as a move to undermine his government. Kejriwal described its passage as a ‘sad day’ while Deputy CM Manish Sisodia called it a ‘black day’ for democracy, Indian Express reported.
In a show of unity, leaders from the Congress, AAP, TMC, BJD, DMK, YSRCP, SP, CPI(M), Shiv Sena, SAD, TDP and NCP opposed the bill, leaving only the BJP and ally RPI (A) in its favour. Giving an upper hand to the Opposition, YSRCP, which supported the bill in the Lok Sabha opposed it in the Upper House of the parliament.
Despite strong opposition over the bill, it was passed in Rajya Sabha by 83 votes against 45 amid a walkout by Congress, SP, YSRCP, BJD, and AIADMK leaders. In the Lok Sabha, eight Opposition parties AAP, BSP, Congress, IUML, NC, NCP, Shiv Sena, and SP – had opposed the Bill, which was supported by BJP and YSRCP.
On Wednesday, the Upper House witnessed heated arguments with Opposition MPs chanting slogans against the BJP-led Central Government. Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge said, “What is the point of elections if you are making the LG the leader?” Kharge asked while demanding that the Bill be sent to a select committee.
Meanwhile, Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi described the Bill as “the most pernicious, unconstitutional… this House has ever seen”. “This is not about AAP, this is not about Congress, this is not about West Bengal, it’s about the fundamentals of federalism… Even the Delhi BJP should join us. You may tomorrow be in power in Delhi,” he said.
On March 22, the bill was passed by Lok Sabha, where it defined the term “Government.” and stated that the “expression ‘Government’ referred to in any law to be made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the Lieutenant Governor”.
TMC’s Derek O’Brien asked, “Which is more important? The Constitution of India or the manifesto of the party?” He said that several TMC MPs flew in for this Bill instead of campaigning for the election in West Bengal “because the Constitution is more important”.